tv NBC Nightly News NBC September 15, 2011 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
on the broadcast tonight -- silent threat. hpv is in the news this week. tonight, some important news about the virus and a link you may not know about to one of the deadliest forms of cancer. hitting home. new evidence tonight of how weak the american economy really is while washington fights over how to put americans back to work. losing ground. what the president told us about the african-americans who are telling him he needs to take special action. going home. after the worst wildfire ever in texas, devastated families see what's left. and the survivor. trapped under a burning car, tonight emotional thanks for the good samaritans who came to the rescue. good samaritans who came to the rescue. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. the subject first came up this
week at the gop debate. hpv, the virus that can cause cancer. it's spread by sexual activity but can be prevented by a vaccine, but only if it's given to young people before it's too late. it was a political issue in the state of texas because governor perry, now a presidential candidate, said all young girls in the state should have the vaccine. but people are now speaking up about the medical issue and an aspect of it that often isn't talked about because in part of the mode of transmission, the high rate of head and neck cancers from the same virus, a form of cancer that kills roughly one american every hour. our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman is here in the studio to start us off tonight. good evening. >> good evening, brian. it is the virus a lot of women know causes cancer of the cervix. what a lot of women and in fact most doctors don't know is that this is also linked to other cancers, deadly cancers. they are on the rise and most people don't even know that they
are at risk. kelly never envisioned herself as anything but healthy. a mother of three who eats well, exercises and has never smoked. the diagnosis of cancer of the tonsil came as a shock. >> i didn't have any symptoms. that's the scary thing. i didn't have the typical sore throat or anything in my mouth that raised a red flag. >> reporter: but kelly now joins the ranks of what many cancer doctors see as an alarming trend -- cancers of the mouth and throat that are directly linked to exposure to hpv, the human papilloma virus, the same virus known to cause cancer of the cervix. >> unlike the patients we saw a decade ago that were 60 or 70 years old, the patients we see now are actually much younger. these patients are typically in their late 30s, early 40s. >> reporter: the numbers are staggering. experts predict that in 2011 there will be 45,000 new cases of head and neck cancer. more than a third of those will
be linked to hpv infection which is mainly transmitted by oral sex. the symptoms can be so subtle they may be missed at first. sore throat, a lump in the neck, difficulty swallowing, even an earache. for kelly, the treatment has been tough. seven rounds of chemotherapy, 35 doses of radiation. >> the radiation took away my ability to talk, swallow and eat. in fact, i didn't eat for probably about eight months. >> reporter: while there is no known cure for adults who have been exposed to the virus, children can be protected by vaccination. the cdc recommends that children get their shots when they are 11 or 12, before they become sexually active. >> we talked to patients about vaccinating their children. i'm talking about vaccinating boys and girls. >> reporter: kelly says she is taking no chances. >> i love my children. i know what i went through. it was excruciating. so there is a vaccine out there that's been tested that has positive results.
i think it's my duty to them to protect them against hpv. >> i would underscore that while the signs of oral cancer can be subtle, it's the symptoms that last longer than two weeks that warrant a visit to your doctor. and, brian, a reminder that over 35 million doses of the vaccine have been given. it's safe, effective and endorsed by a lot of medical bodies. >> very important story for us to do, nancy. thanks for being here. now we turn to the economy in this country and a lot of new data, new numbers out just today that all point to the same conclusion -- the real and ongoing trauma for working americans. first, take the housing front. foreclosure filings surging in august. up 33% as banks started ramping up the foreclosure process they slowed down last year. prices at the consumer level jumped in august. look at the increase from last year. gas prices have jumped more than 32%. food is up nearly 5%, causing pain at the gas pump and the checkout counter.
and then jobs, new claims for unemployment benefits rose 11,000 to 428,000 last week. highest since june. and the post office says it's considering eliminating 35,000 jobs as it struggles with a massive deficit. against the backdrop of all this and it's withering, the speaker of the house john boehner today spoke about his approach to fixing it. nbc's kelly o'donnell with us tonight from capitol hill. kelly? >> reporter: hi there, brian. john boehner laid out what he said is a pattern of washington interfering, micromanaging the people in businesses who could be hiring. he says burdensome regulation and taxes. he said he can work with the president on some things but it sure didn't sound like that. in the political fight over jobs, today the counterpunch from the speaker of the house. >> now, the president's proposals are a poor substitute for the progrowth policies that are needed to remove barriers to
job creation in america. >> reporter: speaker boehner's message -- no new taxes to pay for the president's jobs plan, and don't assume republicans will automatically back temporary cuts without a bigger overhaul of the tax code. >> making short-term fixes in exchange for long-term flawed policy is not tax reform. >> reporter: in an interview with cnbc's maria bartiromo, boehner said he still wants to work with the president but pulled no punches about their differences. >> it's almost as if we are two groups of people from two different planets who barely understand each other. >> reporter: but democrats aren't totally on board either. on capitol hill today, the president's senior advisers dropped in to rally wavering democrats like pennsylvania senator bob casey who says the president's plan is just too big. what do you say to the president? >> i'd say, you've got some good ideas, some i agree with, some i don't agree with, but we need to break this up. >> reporter: turning it into
smaller bills that might get passed more easily. from all the bickering on capitol hill, a rare moment of unity. 36 senators of both parties stood together today saying that they would promise to do more to work to cut the deficit, to help fix jobs knowing the public is so fed up with them. it really was unusual. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on capitol hill. let's go to our political director, chief white house correspondent chuck todd. when 36 out of 100 senators agree, it's headline news these days. we have just lived this with the debt ceiling fight. toxic politics, huge divisions. now they are arguing about how to put americans to work and americans in the meantime want to go to work. >> let's look at big picture what speaker boehner laid out today. he was essentially picking apart the jobs bill piece by piece. so that thing, it's pretty clear it's not going anywhere. he'll dictate, of course, what gets to the house floor which then leaves this super committee
to try to figure out what they are going to do at least on deficit reduction which could end up paying for this jobs bill, but that's unclear. meanwhile you've got a lot of democratic hand-wringing going on. the white house is concerned that it's gone too public. they are very upset for instance that a lot of senators went to the new york times rather than hunkering down because it's giving out this idea that somehow democrats are panicking and the white house would say it's a sense of urgency, brian. >> as somebody said today all incumbents should look at what happened in the congressional elections this week. chuck todd in the d.c. bureau, thanks. now we move to a subset of the american economy. the president is also dealing with the fact that a lot of african-americans in this country are getting flat out crushed in this economy. the stats, as you may know, are staggering. unemployment and poverty, while the d.c. debate is often about tax cuts for the wealthy. princeton professor cornell west and television host tavis smiley
have been on a self-titled poverty tour, at times sharply critical and calling on the president to act. it's something i asked the president about during our white house interview. i want to ask you about african-americans. i'm hearing and reading from many, and not just professor smiley and professor west, who say you have exhibited what they see as a mystifying silence on the especially crippling unemployment rate, poverty and especially where young african-americanales are concerned in our urban areas. >> the most important poverty program is a job. and so what we talked about on thursday will help most directly those who had the highest unemployment rate. african-americans, latinos, rural communities, young people. and so, you know, if you look at everything we have done for the
last three years, my entire focus has been providing ladders of opportunity for people so that they can make it. and by definition, that means that communities that are hurting more are going to get more help. but, you know, i don't think of my job as president of the united states as looking at different segments of the population. >> that's the president's view that he has to be president in effect of all the people, has no special responsibility here, but the debate goes on. nbc's lester holt has a look tonight at where the president stands these days with the african-american component of his political base. >> i, barack hussein obama, do solemnly swear. >> reporter: barack obama's promise of change held a deeper meaning for african-americans. >> on inauguration day, the pride, the excitement, the hope that america had grown up, that we had come to a realization
that the color barrier was not gone but another chapter in american history had really moved forward. >> reporter: but history brought with it a delicate question of expectations. would the first black president take on historic black issues of poverty and high unemployment? a question eric winter, a north carolina physician who campaigned for obama, now wrestles with. >> i don't think that he has let us down yet. i think he's lost focus. i think that he came in with these ideals, but he didn't really know what he was up against. >> reporter: others think on the economy he has let african-americans down. >> we are supportive of the president. >> reporter: black unemployment in this country stands at 16.7%, almost twice as high as the overall rate. and three times as many african-americans as whites live below the poverty line. >> the president has to fight, not carve out some special space
for african-americans but recognize the hell that they are enduring, recognize the crushing that's coming down upon them and start to find unique and creative ways to address that kind of pain. the argues its american jobs act would help millions of black families. >> if we think that only black presidents have a responsibility to address black inequality or unemployment then we let off the hook george w. bush or bill clinton or george h.w. bush. all presidents have a responsibility to address this kind of inequality and none of them have up to this point. >> reporter: despite vocal critics, an august nbc news wall street journal poll found the president enjoying an overwhelming 92% approval rating among black voters. >> i'm exhausted of defending you. >> reporter: obama supporter velma hart who confronted him in the fall over the stagnant economy defends him on this
point. >> the hopes and dreams of the african-american community are equal to anyone else in this country. we are going around saying, because he's the black president he has to show us favorites. >> reporter: the real rub here may be between the president and the black political leadership. >> when you talk about the civil rights establishment his brand of doing politics sometimes rubs them the wrong way. they want to hear more of the word black used, more of targeting toward african-americans which of course as president of the united states he really can't do. >> reporter: what he does do are unannounced drop-ins like this one at the white house this week with african-american journalists and surprise call-ins to black radio. >> tom joyner, how are you, my friend? >> reporter: a subtle approach at a time some say calls for boldness. >> he's a black man in america. he that is strength. he is not beaten down. he just needs to step it up. >> reporter: you could fairly argue black voters will be there for the president in 2012 no matter what but there is a
broader conversation going on between liberals of all races. you heard some of it. that the president has not stood up to the right as forcefully as he could and that could cost him come re-election time. >> another important story. debate going on every day. lester, glad you're here. thanks. at the white house today president obama delivered the nation's highest military honor to a young man being called a genuine american hero, although as we have heard him say, it's not something he likes being called. he's a marine named dakota meyer and becomes now the 85th living recipient of the medal of honor. awarded to him for rushing into enemy fire in afghanistan and disobeying orders, by the way in doing so, in order to save the lives of 13 americans in an ambush. up next here tonight as our broadcast continues on a thursday evening, after the raging wildfires in texas, going back home to see what's left. tonight, we're with them on a first look. and later, the fire rescue we watched in disbelief. we have heard from the heroes
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through the ruins that were their lives before the fires, fire crews, sometimes with shovels, often by hand, worked to make sure the fire that seems to be out stays out. more than 200 wildfires are burning across 11 states right now. the most serious and severe in texas. every corner of the state is on fire. over 3 million acres that look more like the surface of the moon. >> we find so many things that are melted. >> reporter: but the maps, numbers and data don't matter much to the philips family. >> what you lose in 40 years of marriage and all the stuff from your grandparents and your parents. >> reporter: so many struggling to piece together what they can and trying to figure out what comes next. >> this is the grim reality. you know, the grimness of the situation is starting to set in to the community. >> reporter: more evidence of just how grim. firefighters in texas have been
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the skies lit up in the american southwest last night in arizona all the way west to california. witnesses reported a brilliant light streaking across the sky. no one knew what it was they had just seen. today the head of nasa's near earth object program -- yes, there is one -- says it was an asteroid fragment, probably the size of a volleyball trailing fire and sparks across the sky before it burned itself out. he said we're not used to seeing them over populated areas. back on earth, new word that the arctic sea ice has melted to near record levels. second lowest level ever recorded. scientists say it's more evidence of climate change and that the ice could shrink even further and that it's having a huge impact on the creatures that depend on the ice. some 20,000 desperate walruses
are hauling themselves out onto land to rest between trips to find food, something they would normally do on board an ice floe. five years ago in boulder, colorado, a small cat named willow wandered away from home willow's owners hoped they would find her because she had a microchip i.d. implant. but as time wore on, they figured poor willow must have been an hors d'oeuvres for an owl or coyote. fast forward to yesterday when chris and jamie squires got the phone call, your cat's here in new york city. they don't know how willow got to manhattan or how she's been supporting herself for the last five years. when we come back tonight, an offer of thanks to the group of strangers who pulled off a remarkable rescue with no time to spare. remarkable rescue with no time to spare. [ daniel ] my name is daniel northcutt.
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how much can the snapshot discount save you? call or click today. than these gas relievers. these you take after food gives you gas, you take beano before, so you don't get gas. and if you don't get gas, maybe you don't need these. take beano before and there'll be no gas. it was the video from earlier this week some people could not believe. and yet most of us couldn't stop watching. a motorcyclist trapped under a car that was on fire and the good samaritans who lifted the car to get him out and then kind of cautiously backed off and waited for medical attention to arrive. well, tonight that young man,
saved from the fire, is talking for the first time. our report from nbc's george lewis. >> reporter: brandon wright has multiple fractures in his right leg, a fractured pelvis, a burned left foot and scrapes all over his body. and he's in a lot of pain, but extremely grateful tonight. >> i just wanted to thank all the heroes that put their lives on the line to save mine. i'm forever in debt. i can't thank them enough. >> reporter: heroes who saved him from this. brandon, in and out of consciousness, pinned beneath the car that hit his motorcycle, rupturing the gas tank. >> i ce to for about five seconds while i was under the car. i screamed a couple times, threw up some blood. then it was lights out again. >> reporter: brandon said when he first saw the video of the rescue, he couldn't believe what he was watching.
>> everyone swarms in, picks up the car and i see my body. i look dead. it's unreal to see yourself like that. >> reporter: brandon's doctors say he might well have died if his rescuers hadn't moved so quickly. he's expected to make a full recovery. doctors say it will take a couple of months. on tuesday when some of the rescuers met reporters they said they were uncomfortable being called heroes. >> it's second nature. if you see someone in trouble you help them. >> reporter: brandon wright has some advice for them. >> they should get used to it. they're definitely heroes. to risk their life for a complete stranger. that's what makes them so special. >> reporter: and he wants to meet them and thank them in person as soon as he's able. george lewis, nbc news, murray, utah. >> and that is our broadcast on a thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.